Honour killings a shame on India: Chidambaram

July 28th, 2009 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, July 28 (IANS)The vilest crimes are committed in the name of defending the honour of a family or a woman and “we should hang our heads in shame” when such incidents take place in India in the 21st century, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday.
“The vilest crimes are committed in the name of defending the honour of the family or women and we should hang our heads in shame when such incidents take place in India in the 21st century,” Chidambaram said. He was responding to a calling attention notice in the Rajya Sabha on the increasing incidents of honour killings and honour-related crimes in the country, especially a spate of incidents last week.

Holding that the state governments should do to more to prevent crimes against women, he said: “I recoil with shame when I read in the newspapers that two teenagers - a Dalit boy and a Muslim girl - were brutally killed in a village near Meerut, Uttar Pradesh in the name of honour.”

“Or when I read that a young man, accompanied by a warrant officer was killed when he was on his way to fetch his wife from a village in Jind district, Haryana. Or when I read that a newly married couple in Delhi fear for their lives following a fatwa issued by a panchayat in Jhajjar district, Haryana,” the minister added.

Chidambaram specifically pointed to some caste panchayats that are known to approve of these killings and thus become accomplices in the violation of laws.

“However, caste panchayats are informal bodies and have no legal status as such. Often, villagers give precedence to the judgement of a caste panchayat rather than that delivered by the courts of law,” he added.

While stating that the government was deeply concerned about violence against women, Chidambaram said that real progress could only be made by addressing the causes that are rooted in anachronistic attitudes and false values.

Some of the steps initiated by the government to stamp out these crimes include the enactment of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, setting up helplines for women in distress under the Swadhar Scheme of the ministry of women and child development and redressal of grievances through interventions of the National and State Commissions for Women, the minister pointed out.

Since honour killing was not a crime classified separately under Indian laws, Chidambaram said no data was collected separately by the National Crime Records Bureau and it was covered under the selection leading to murder.

“Moreover, it is difficult to identify or classify an honour killing as such in any given community since the reasons for such killings often remain a closely guarded private family matter,” Chidambaram said.

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